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  • Matt Rector

    Audiophile Sound Systems Music and More

    CAP IT!!! OR WHY VINTAGE STEREO GEAR AIN’T THAT GREAT

    SPEAKING AGAINST MY BUSINESS

    I sell a lot of vintage receivers, amps and pre amps, Marantz, Pioneer, Sansui, Kenwood, Dynaco and more so why would I be encouraging you not to buy it? I’m not, but as popular as it is most folks that buy unrestored gear from the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s will be disappointed.

    THE LIGHTS COME ON AND IT’S REALLY LOUD

    I buy a lot of vintage gear and without fail sellers will tell me it works because the lights come on. Unfortunately, I’ve got a huge supply of Parts units that “worked” because the time and cost to repair these units exceeds the price I can sell them for. The real key to quality audio gear isn’t that it looks cool (thought that is important) or if its loud, its if it sounds good.

    CAPACITORS ARE SHOCKING

    Capacitors exist in all electronic equipment. While there are a plethora of types, explanations and uses I like to compare them to the shock absorbers in your car because generally they smooth the electrical current like shocks smooth the bumps in the road. Like shocks they generally don’t fail all at once they just slowly do their job worse and worse. In fact electrolytic capacitors (the most common in audio gear) have a max rated 2000 hour life span. So while they still do their job and are within specifications they don’t do it well.

    HOW CAN THEY BE BETTER THAN ORIGINAL?

    When a big factory is producing millions of units saving a couple of cents adds up to a lot of profit. So when Pioneer, Marantz or Kenwood were producing their units they used the cheapest components they could get away with. When I’m recapping a stereo I use high quality audio capacitors because the price difference is negligible to the cost of the job. Say for instance $20 for all high quality caps versus $5 for low end. This makes a huge difference in not just the quality of sound but the length of time that it will sound good.

    BUT WON’T THAT CHANGE THE ORIGINAL “SOUND”

    No not really. I don’t generally change the actual architecture of the unit but allow it to be the best it can be. The replacement of the capacitors is with generally the same values though sometimes I’ll use a little bit higher voltage rating which just gives them a little more head room to absorb abuse without changing their capacitance. I’m just installing the quality of components that the designer would have used but the accountants took out.

    IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT

    Whenever I do a repair job for a customer I always encourage them to allow me to replace, at the very least, the electrolytic capacitors in the power supply. I know, this sounds like a typical tech up sell but really it saves them money in the long run. I can’t tell you the number of times I have replaced just the bad components and had them come back a few weeks later because another component had failed. A lot of the time used in repairing a unit is the actual disassembly of the unit. Replacing the caps on the power supply is usually pretty fast once it’s apart.

    PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH

    In today’s world of hype versus quality where a two t-shirts made in the same factory have a $20 difference in price because of the brand name printed on it and mechanics always want to “turn” your rotors even if they don’t need it (in fact most modern rotors are too thin to turn) it’s easy to be cynical. Unfortunately, most of the time I can’t sell units that are reconditioned for enough to justify the additional time and expense of doing the work so I generally don’t do it unless I’m already in there doing work. I have started to offer the service at an additional cost. A complete recondition will save you time and money in the long run and give you a unit that you will really dig the sound of.

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